Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coup Fears in Ecuador?

BBC reporting...

Ecuador's president has denounced a "coup attempt" after mass protests by members of the security forces against his government's austerity programme.

After being forced to flee a rally at a barracks in Quito, Rafael Correa said "the opposition and sections of the armed forces and police" were to blame.

Mr Correa said they would have to kill him first to achieve their goals.

Sigh. The turmoil never ends in Latin America. It just shifts around from place to place.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chilean Miners Update

Good news out of Chile for the 33 miners trapped 700m underground. Rescuers expect they'll be out sometime between mid-October and early November. Previous estimates had the rescue hole drilled by Christmas.

From the BBC.

Thirty-three miners trapped underground in Chile for nearly two months could be out sooner than thought.

Rescuers digging to reach the men say one of their drills has cut through 50m (164ft) of rock in 24 hours.

At that rate they could be ready to bring the men to the surface by the middle of October.

But they have warned that they could yet run into problems, and the government still says it could take until early November to get them out.

One of the three drills digging rescue shafts - the T-130 - has now penetrated more than 300m (984ft) of the 630m (2,066ft) of rock separating the miners from the surface.

"This headway is some of the best we have had and it is due to the better continuity we have had with this drill," Andrew Sougarret, the head of the rescue operation, said.

"We have reached 300m, which is the area where we have had the most unfavourable geological conditions, so hopefully we can think about maintaining this rhythm of drilling."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chilean Miners

The story of the 33 Chilean miners trapped some 700 meters underground has had me on edge for weeks now. It was with jubilation that we heard they were found alive and with trepidation we heard it may be months until they could be rescued.

I read of their story every day, knowing that there will be that story one day, sometime before Christmas, where we see them emerge finally from the depths. This is one of the greatest human triumph stories of our times.

Today, the cage that will eventually pull the miners to safety one-by-one was delivered to the mine site.

A cage specially built to help rescue 33 men trapped underground in a mine in Chile has arrived at the mine head.

The steel capsule will be used to pull the men to safety one by one, once a rescue shaft wide enough to haul them up has been drilled.

Relatives of the miners were allowed to get into the narrow cage, which is little more than 50cm (20in) wide.

It is expected to take between 20-30 minutes to pull each miner up from their shelter at a depth of 700m.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting for Superman

A new documentary is due out soon covering the complex and divisive topic of public education in the United States. The film is directed by Davis Guggenheim famous for his work on An Inconvenient Truth.

The film promises to move you and this blogger is certain that many teachers in the US will feel quite uncomfortable with many of the messages the film presents.

Time magazine also recently ran a special on the film and on US public education in general.,8599,2016978,00.html

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mexico City Earthquake - 25 Years On

On September 19th of this year, Mexico City observed the 25th anniversary of a devastating earthquake that in 1985 killed between 6000 and 35000 people and flattened numerous buildings, schools, and a major hospital. Every year since that quake, the Mexico City government has run major earthquake drills at all public buildings. Many businesses also participate. This year's simulation involved over 6 million people.

Living in Mexico City means I'm sure to feel another big one sooner or later. I've felt a number of smaller tremors over the years and one good sized shake in 2003. It's not something one can get used but nor is it something you live in fear of everyday. You just hope you know what to do when another big shake comes along.

The most recent simulation generated a report that some 3000 buildings in the city are at risk of serious damage should another monster 8.1 quake occur as did in 1985. At risk are buildings in Iztapalapa, Cuauhtemoc, and Venustiano Carranza districts (none of which I live in) as buildings in those areas are quite old and both underground and overhead infrastructure present particular risk in these high-density areas.

Monday, September 20, 2010

10 Most Unswerable Questions

Courtesy the BBC and Ask Jeeves

1. What is the meaning of life?

2. Is there a God?

3. Do blondes have more fun?

4. What is the best diet?

5. Is there anybody out there?

6. Who is the most famous person in the world?

7. What is love?

8. What is the secret to happiness?

9. Did Tony Soprano die?

10. How long will I live?

and I'll one of my own...11. Where is this guy's head?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ah Here's a REAL Bicentennial

Oktoberfest turns 200! Celebrating drinking beer for 200 years...oh yeah!

From the BBC

It all started with a “yes”. On 12 October 1810 Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (the future King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen exchanged their marriage vows, thus kicking off a mega-bash that culminated five days later with a spirited horse race. The party was such a rip-roaring success that the Munich magistrate decided that it warranted an annual repeat performance.

Over time, many other traditions were added. Carnival booths appeared in 1816, the folk costume and riflemen's parade followed in 1835, while the brewers first paraded in 1887. And since 1950, the Oktoberfest has officially opened with the tapping of the first keg by the Munich mayor.

And so it will be again this year. At noon on 18 September 2010, Mayor Christian Ude will launch the world's biggest collective drink-up with the magic words: O'zapft ist! (It is tapped!). For the next 17 days, more than six million normally prim and sober citizens from every country in the world will descend upon the Theresienwiese festival grounds (Wiesn, for short) to guzzle towering mugs of beer and engage in good cheer and outright debauchery. This year is the 200th anniversary of the tankard-clinking marathon and the city of Munich has come up with some unique ways to mark the occasion.

For a primer on the Oktoberfest, report to the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum;, where a special exhibit tracks its evolution from Bavarian royal wedding gala to beery extravaganza. There are plenty of fun displays, like the oldest beer keg, an epic painting that graced the festival entrance on the 100th anniversary, and fancy dirndl (traditional women's dress) designs through the ages.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mexican Independence Day!

Today and tomorrow, Mexico celebrates its bicentennial - 200 years of independence and 100 years since the Mexican revolution. Parties abound throughout the country.

Having a 15 month old daughter means I won't be able to join the evening festivities, which culminate tonight with el grito - the president of the country reciting the famous cry of independence that started this whole Mexico thing. It's at 11 PM so Stella will be fast asleep. We've decided to spend the evening at home with friends and drinks, but we're taking in some daytime activities today and tomorrow as there is much music, dancing, and fiesta-making all over town.

Here's how we celebrated a few years ago, back before I became a father.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

28th Annual Mexico City Marathon

and there's not a chance I'll be in it!

From El Universal

La celebración del 28 Maratón Internacional de la Ciudad de México desquicia el tránsito vehicular en la zona centro y poniente de la capital del país.
Con la participación de más de 15 mil atletas, a las 7:15 horas inició la carrera en la avenida 20 de Noviembre, con un dispositivo para garantizar la seguridad de corredores y público en general.

La ruta de 42 kilómetros que siguen los competidores esta mañana nublada y de escasos espectadores comprende 20 de Noviembre, José María Pino Suárez, Doctor Río de la Loza, Chapultepec, Sevilla, Thiers, Ejército Nacional, Homero, Horacio, Presidente Masaryk y cruzará la Segunda Sección del Bosque de Chapultepec.

Los maratonistas continuarán por Salamanca, Durango, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas y Alfonso Reyes para incorporarse al Circuito Bicentenario, Revolución, Río Mixcoac y regresarán por Insurgentes Sur, Avenida Juárez, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas e Izazaga, para volver a la Plaza de la Constitución.

Además de esas calles, las autoridades capitalinas mantienen cerradas al tránsito vehicular avenidas como Juárez, Hidalgo y el Paseo de la Reforma.

15,000 people participate in the annual event which closes off many major streets in high end Polanco, down Reforma Avenue, past my place, and through Chapultepec park. I'd forgotten about the event until I took te dogs for a walk this morning and found Revolucion avenue closed off and cranky car drivers honking their displeasure.

Mexico City Marathon 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What to do with a wild 15 month old in Mexico?

Take her to gymboree, of course! Burn off some of that energy.

For the last 6 weeks, mommy and daddy have been taking Stella Olivia over to gymboree for 45 minute sessions in playgym (instructor lead activities), music (instructor lead banging on things and dancing), and open gym to use the facilities as parents see fit.

It's been a blast and both a great outlet for Stella's growing energy and a way for her to socialize with other toddlers her age.

Some video from today's open gym.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EFL Jobs in Kabul. KABUL??!

Someone at the ESL Cafe is asking about jobs in war-torn Kabul. Hard to believe. Anyone have a job lead for this person?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reading Arabic 'hard for brain'

according to the BBC.

Israeli scientists believe they have identified why Arabic is particularly hard to learn to read.

The University of Haifa team say people use both sides of their brain when they begin reading a language - but when learning Arabic this is wasting effort.

The detail of Arabic characters means students should use only the left side of their brain because that side is better at distinguishing detail.

The findings from the study of 40 people are reported in Neuropsychology.

When someone learns to read Arabic they have to work out which letters are which, and which ones go with which sounds.

It is the ability to tell letters apart that seems to work differently in Arabic - because telling the characters apart involves looking at very small details such as the placement of dots.

Professor Zohar Eviatar, who led the research team, said: "The particular characteristics of Arabic make it hard for the right hemisphere to be involved. When you are starting something new, there is a lot of [right hemisphere] involvement."

more at the article linked above

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homeless man calls 911 from hot tub

asks for towels, hug, hot chocolate!

Oh my this is funny...

From CBC.

BEAVERTON, Ore. - A homeless man who called 911 from the hot tub of a suburban Portland, Oregon home and asked for towels, hot chocolate and a hug.

He didn't get any of those items — he got arrested for trespassing instead.

Beaverton police say Mark Eskelsen called 911 from his cellphone, identified himself as "the sheriff of Washington County," and asked for medical help.

He later admitted he wasn't the sheriff but informed the dispatcher he'd been in the water about 10 hours and his towels had gotten wet.

As he put it, "I just need a hug and a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it."

The Oregonian newspaper says arriving officers arrested Eskelsen for investigation of second-degree criminal trespass and improper use of 911.